Fisheries staff will conduct annual lake trout removal efforts between May 11 and May 29 in Upper Priest Lake. This netting program keeps non-native lake trout numbers low, reducing predation and competition on native fish like bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.
Gill nets are placed at the bottom of the lake targeting groups of lake trout. Nets do not affect recreational boaters but anglers will want to avoid areas with buoys and active net boats to avoid losing gear.
Fishery management of Upper Priest Lake has focused on conserving native fish for much of its management history. Annual removal of lake trout has been a component of that management approach for 20 years. Bull trout have responded well with increasing numbers. Other fish, like westslope cutthroat trout are also showing signs of improvement.
Lake trout removed from the lake do not go to waste, as netted fish are taken to local food banks. Incidental catch of other types of fish is generally low and many are released alive.
This project relies on U.S. Forest Service developed sites for launching of work boats on Priest Lake and camping on Upper Priest Lake during the May work window. Fish and Game, along with Hickey Brothers Fisheries Research, was granted an exemption from the current closure of developed Forest Service facilities by the Panhandle National Forest. This administrative exemption ensures the progress made in two decades of native fish conservation is not undone.
Information on recreation site closures in Idaho during the COVID-19 pandemic is available at coronavirus.idaho.gov/recreate-responsibly.